Russell Knox started his second Masters appearance with a four-over 76 in winds of up to 40mph and said Augusta National was really showing its teeth.
“It’s as hard as you’ll ever play to be honest,” said Knox, who was in the company of Rickie Fowler (73) and Hideki Matsuyama (76), on a day that saw the world No.1 withdraw from the tournament.
“The situation is it’s pretty windy. They said it was going to gust 40mph, but when we were on 14 I almost fell over.
“The tough thing about here is the trees and the swirls - you never really know where the wind is. Here, it’s tricky and that’s what makes this place so special.”
Knox, a two-time PGA Tour winner, shot even par on the front after starting with a tidy up and down at the first but said he just made simple mistakes on the back nine, including a double bogey at 14.
“I just made a mess of that,” he said shrugging his shoulders.
“But I played well all day,” added the 31-year-old. “It was kinda the same as last year, to be honest. I was just untidy. All my bogeys weren’t bad shots, but I’ve got to get up and down.
“I’m just a bit disappointed to shoot that round, and struggled a bit at the end. It’s just so hard. On the last I felt I hit a decent putt and it didn’t even touch the hole.
My iron play was pretty good. I felt like I hit a lot of solid shots. It’s just tough to get it close enough for birdie. I never made any putts all day.”
Speaking about the conditions, which have seen some of the strongest winds at Augusta National for some years, Knox said it contributed to making the course’s famous putting slopes all the more challenging.
“It’s tough on a day like this,” he said. “You can’t make anything. I made one birdie. I mean I’m not getting up and down from right off the edge of the green, where my mum could get up and down from. It’s tough.
“I thought par today would be two-or three over. I could’ve got round in par so I was disappointed. It is what it is.”